FLEMINGTON, NJ – A Pennsylvania man has been arrested after what Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III called a “swatting” incident.
“Swatting is a practice in which anonymous callers will phone-in false emergency reports to provoke a large police response,” Kearns explained in a press release issued this morning.
Michael Pellot, 35, of Bethlehem, Pa. faces second- and third-degree charges of false public alarm and a fourth-degree charge of false report to law enforcement.
Bail has been set at $100,000 and Pellot was released pending his first court appearance.
According to the press release, 911 operators received a report on Feb. 29 that a New York police officer had been shot and was bleeding on the side of Route 78. Police from High Bridge, Clinton and the townships of Clinton and Franklin, along with New Jersey State Police responded before the call was determined to be a hoax.
The arrest is the result of a joint investigation by Kearns’ Major Crimes and Fugitive units, State Police based in Perryville and the New York Police Department’s 40th Precinct.
“Swatting is not a harmless prank,” Kearns said. “It is very hazardous and places citizens and law enforcement officers in danger. Creating a false public alarm is a crime and those responsible will be prosecuted.”
Kearns praised the “high level of cooperation” between the investigating agencies and said it was “instrumental in tracking down and arresting” Pellot.
The press release was jointly issued by Kearns, his Chief of Detectives John J. Kuczynski and New Jersey State Police.